33rd Africa Cup of Nations; Media Rights and Piracy

By Bubu Klinogo

It cost GBC two million Euros, approximately 14 million Ghana Cedis in order to acquire the rights to broadcast the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations AFCON on its television and radio networks. The point must be made that GBC has exclusive rights to the matches in Ghana.

The good point however is that the State Broadcaster reached out to Private Media organizations in the country to partner it. However, while some of these Private Media Houses agreed to partner with the GBC, some flatly turned down the offer.

It is therefore illegal, criminal and plain thievery on the part of these private media houses to either show the matches or run commentary on them without authorization from the GBC. It is absolutely within the rights of the State Broadcaster to take any and every legitimate action to protect its rights.

Already, GBC has engaged the services of the Ghana Police Service to clamp down on errant Media Houses. Some have questioned the locus of the police in arresting media owners who are illegally broadcasting the matches. This is tantamount to questioning the mandate of the police in arresting thieves or people engaged in illegal water or electricity connection. Clearly, the Police have the mandate to do what they are doing.

Quite apart from the criminal action, GBC can also pursue a civil action against those illegally transmitting the matches or running commentary on them on radio. There are international Conventions and Treaties as well as national laws that protect the rights of Media Houses as well as Copyright Owners. Media Houses who demand high standards from Public Officers must themselves exhibit a high sense of responsibility, it is then that they can mount the moral high ground to demand the same from members of the society.

For it is said, he who calls for equity must come with clean hands.

In this enterprise of illegal broadcast of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations, it is observed that stations outside Accra, are most culpable.

Perhaps, they are under the mistaken belief that they are out of sight and cannot be caught. For their information, the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation has offices in every region and the management has tasked its regional directorates to monitor all stations in their respective jurisdictions and take action against those who are pirating the matches.

Already, the Acting Western Regional Director of the GBC, Alfred Hughes has led a team of Police Officers to arrest some of these Media Managers who are going contrary to the law, and the same is to be replicated in all the regions. It is important to clear one misconception. There are those of the view that, once these private stations are not picking their feeds from or watching from GBC, they are not violating GBC’s rights. That is a non-starter.

In fact, it does not matter where you are watching the match from or picking the feeds from. Only GBC and its affiliates or partners have the right to show the matches or run commentary on them in Ghana when it comes to free to air broadcasting. Therefore, whether you are watching from a pay per view station or live from the stadium in Cameroon, you have absolutely no right to transmit the matches or run commentary on them in Ghana. According to the Management of GBC, its doors are still open to those private media houses who want to telecast the matches or run commentary on them to come for negotiation. Indeed, the whole nation must stand with GBC to clamp down on those illegally transmitting the matches.

We commend GBC for always rising up to the occasion to bring us these important contents. There is no doubt that football is the passion of the nation and it would have been a monumental disappointment if GBC had not acquired the rights to bring us the matches. That is why the entire nation must support GBC to recoup its investment in order to be in a position to bring us more of these in the future.

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